Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

The Bruins: Game Four

22

Dear Tom,

…At the start of the playoffs, I wondered whether any team could beat the Bruins four out of seven times. I concluded that nobody could.

The Bruins are the best team in the league. They have been all year, regardless of the standings. Maybe it’s just because I live in Rhode Island and I see them all the time, but they’ve been building towards this for years. An objective observer takes one look at their roster and clearly sees their depth. They are loaded all across the board, but particularly on the backend. Most importantly, they have the best goaltender in the league. Thomas has stolen games for years, and multiple in this year’s playoffs…

It’s sad because I think Canuck fans have waited long enough. Having said that, the Bruins are making them look like a bantam team. Speed is great, Tom, and Lord known Montreal and Tampa had that goaing for them. But physicality still plays a huge part in winning the Cup (goaltending, too), and the Bruins are simply wearing down the Canucks.

Joe

Perhaps you are right, but that’s not the way this series will be perceived in our neck of the woods. Amazing as it may sound, this season – easily the greatest in Canuck history – may also go down as the greatest disappointment ever. Lose and this team – whether it is fair or not – will wear it. There will be none of “Oh, well. They were beaten by a better team.” Heroes will be vilified. There will be much bitterness and a sour taste that won’t go away for a long time.

The Canucks were the model of consistency through the regular season. In the playoffs, they have been anything but. At times, they have looked like by far the best team in the league. At other times, they’ve looked like the Oilers on a bad night. The difference has been astonishing.

The Canucks have been blown out in four of their eight losses – and they were outscored by an incredible 24-2 in those four games. Their other losses ended up being one goal games, but the loss to the Sharks was only close because Vancouver scored a couple of late power play goals. In the other three losses, the Canucks were unfortunate to lose. In other words when Dr. Jekyll shows up, Vancouver is 14-3. When Mr Hyde makes an appearance, the Canucks have been embarassing to watch.

Its inexplicable to me. Luongo has to carry some of the responsibility, (but not as much as he is will wear unless things change and change quickly.) Alain Vigneault has to do what he did following the Chicago disasters – figure out how to get the Canucks to put a decent game of the ice. Will he?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Go, Jekylls, go. Go away Hydes, go away.

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Comments

22 Responses to “The Bruins: Game Four”
  1. Nicholas says:

    I really thought, as Tom did, that the Canucks were far and away the better team in games 1 and 2. Watching those games, I didn’t see how Boston was even going to score more than a few goals in the series, let alone win a game. So I don’t think Vancouver should panic. But the Canucks are indeed playing a step behind all of a sudden, and I think it’s a combination of coaching and riding too high on emotion. Boston has starting trapping much more effectively, and the Canucks seem to skate right into it every time. They don’t seem to be playing a poised game based around fast breakouts and skill, but are forcing plays and getting caught up in making big hits. In short they are not playing Canucks hockey. Vigneault needs to settle his players down and get back to basics, and try to dictate the play without unwittingly falling into the trap of playing Bruins hockey instead.

    And I don’t think Luongo deserves much blame, really. He can be much better than he has been the last two games but I think this is a media-driven storyline that refuses to die. Every goalie has bad games and most of Luongo’s games have been good games.

  2. Dean says:

    I have to admit to being rather despondent right now.

    If it was too healthy teams, I wouldn’t be all that concerned. But as far as I can tell, we have the following injuries:

    Henrik
    Kesler
    Hamhuis
    Erhoff
    Rome (suspension)

    and possibly Higgins.

    That’s a good chunk of our core. And although people say ‘injuries are just excuses’ the fact is that performance DOES take a hit when you’re injured.

    • Mad Dog says:

      Please don’t blame injuries for the Canucks poor play. The Bruins have been without Horton since Rhome’s cheap shot, our best offensive player, Marc Savard, has been out since he received a cheap shot from the infamous Matt Cooke. We also have injuries, every player does this time of year but good players are able to play through them. Teams made up of the likes of Burrows and the Sedin sisters don’t have the fortitude to play through diversity. The Canucks are made up of a bunch of cheap shot artists, floppers and turtles and that is why the Stanley Cup will be raised in Boston on Monday night. Here we go Bruins, here we go!

      • Tom says:

        Please don’t blame injuries for the Canucks poor play. The Bruins have been without Horton since Rhome’s cheap shot, our best offensive player, Marc Savard, has been out since he received a cheap shot from the infamous Matt Cooke. We also have injuries, every player does this time of year but good players are able to play through them.

        Injuries do matter – and the injury breaks don’t always even out – but in this series, right now, I agree with you.

        Teams made up of the likes of Burrows and the Sedin sisters don’t have the fortitude to play through diversity. The Canucks are made up of a bunch of cheap shot artists, floppers and turtles and that is why the Stanley Cup will be raised in Boston on Monday night. Here we go Bruins, here we go!

        We try to keep things both intelligent and polite around here even when discussing things that tend to bring out the worst in everyone. This part of your comment is both stupid and needlessly provocative.

        Please adjust your behaviour setting to “adult” or find another sandbox.

      • IamJoe says:

        We also have injuries, every player does this time of year but good players are able to play through them. Teams made up of the likes of Burrows and the Sedin sisters don’t have the fortitude to play through diversity

        I can’t imagine how hard it must be to play through diversity. It’s a good thing Atlanta didn’t make the finals, though you’d better look out, having them in your division in a couple years once reorganization of the divisions gets ironed out.

        • Magicpie says:

          My team once played through diversity, togetherness and sharing. It was one of the hardest things we ever had to do.

          • Tom says:

            Okay, okay. We all know he meant to type adversity. I can hardly whack him for needless provocation without pointing out that making jokes at his expense returns the favour. If I appear too sensitive to this stuff right now, its because I don’t like the way (some) fans – from both teams – are handling themselves as their team approaches the Cup. I can’t read the comments to hockey stories any more.

            BTW, I like the diversity on the Canucks. It gives the team a different, more interesting personality. And if a guy can play, he can play.

  3. Tom says:

    They don’t seem to be playing a poised game based around fast breakouts and skill, but are forcing plays and getting caught up in making big hits. In short they are not playing Canucks hockey. Vigneault needs to settle his players down and get back to basics, and try to dictate the play without unwittingly falling into the trap of playing Bruins hockey instead.

    The better ice will help. Its hard to move the puck quickly when sometimes it just won’t sit down for you. Ballard was caught twice with a bouncing puck he couldn’t corral and it led to two goals.

    The way the games were called in Boston helped the Bruins, too. I hate it when the referees call marginal things, but they’ve let the chippiness get way out of hand. They’ve dialed back the rules for what goes on in front of the net by about ten years and guys are getting slashed all over the ice. Letting these teams crash into each other? Ignore inconsequential and accidental trips or hooks? I’m with the referee. But you can’t let these guys hit each other with their sticks and spear each other the way they have.

    But I agree. What the Canucks have to do is do what they’ve done about 85 times this year. They have to come out and put their game on the ice, from goal on out.

    • IamJoe says:

      Maybe I’m cherrypicking here, but I think you’ve mentioned the ice a few times these playoffs. In NSH, in SJ, and now in BOS. While certainly there are differences in ice quality around the league, I don’t think anyone has very good ice in May and June, and BOS is certainly not a Tampa or an Anaheim or even a San Jose – they are not exactly known for having the fairest weather in the world. I think this is one of those things that you happen to see and it sticks in your head, similar to my noticing you commenting on it. Overall, I think its pretty much a non-issue, especially since both teams have to play with it.

      • Numbers Guy says:

        But Tom’s point – which is a good one – is that the Canucks’ style works best with good ice, and faces challenges on poor ice. Both teams play on the same ice, but they’re employing different styles or tactics on that ice. Bad ice affects those styles differently.

        Bad ice disadvantages skilled and fast teams. The Canucks are the more skilled and faster team. Therefore, they’re disproportionately disadvantaged.

        Conversely, bad ice favours a hitting team. When you’re dribbling a puck like a basketball, trying to settle it down, you’re not moving, stationary, a target. The Bruins play a tighter checking game than the Canucks. Therefore, they’re disproportionately advantaged.

        • Dean says:

          Also, it was unusually hot on Wednesday, with highs at the Boston airport around 82 on Wednesday. (though it was 70 on Monday).

          Vancouver today will be mid 60s (mid teens Celsius) and Boston will be around the upper 60s on Monday.

          So the ice should be substantially better than Wednesday.

      • Tom says:

        While certainly there are differences in ice quality around the league, I don’t think anyone has very good ice in May and June, and BOS is certainly not a Tampa or an Anaheim or even a San Jose – they are not exactly known for having the fairest weather in the world.

        There is a blistering heat wave – with near record humidity – in the Northeast this year. It wasn’t just me who noticed the impact of the bad ice. Hughson and Simpson mentioned it several times, something that does not get done unless conditions really suck. They even went so far as to describe what staff had done in Boston to try to get the ice into playable condition.

    • Thomas Pratt says:

      Taking off my Canucks hat and putting on my NHL hat, I really think you hit on something that makes me very uneasy for the next 2-3 years of the league. Whether or not Boston wins, rival GM’s will have seen how effective trapping, crap after the whistle hockey is at stopping more talented teams. If the league continues down this road, I fear it really won’t be long until the post lockout gains in speed and play are severely curtailed.

      More than any other playoff, I’ve really had my fill of national talking heads and opinion columnists. After game 2, the narrative was all about whether Boston will win a game. After game 4, it’s all about the Canucks as an overmatched, dislikable collection of hooligans and whiners led by a pair of gender indeterminate Swedish Twins and a fragile prima donna goalie. There is no self refection. It’s like listening to a constant stream of Tourettes from the likes of Cox, Spector, Milbury, Fischler.

      • Tom says:

        Whether or not Boston wins, rival GM’s will have seen how effective trapping, crap after the whistle hockey is at stopping more talented teams. If the league continues down this road, I fear it really won’t be long until the post lockout gains in speed and play are severely curtailed.

        I think the post lockout gains were vastly overstated, but in general I agree.

        More than any other playoff, I’ve really had my fill of national talking heads and opinion columnists.

        Oh, me too. The fans as well. The entire thing is way over the top for me, and everything is far too mean-spirited. I thought a long playoff run would be a lot more fun. It was more fun in both ’82 and ’94.

        • James Mirtle says:

          Seemed a lot more innocent somehow in 1994. I think it’s more fun not being the favourites.

          • Tom says:

            Innocent? Maybe. I don’t think being the favourite has much to do with it.

            I can’t really express why I’m so bothered by the fact that all perspective has been lost. I’m sure its happened in other playoffs but maybe it doesn’t seem so sick when I am emotionally detached. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of the circus, the NHL narrative, the NHL media – its all so mean spirited. Fans of winners don’t celebrate, they gloat. Fans of losers don’t lick their wounds, they lash out at their own. I’ve stopped reading about the series and I’ve stopped watching anything except the games.

            None of the rest of it has anything to do with why I am a hockey fan.

            This is supposed to be a great time for people like me, and I find myselves wondering why I follow the NHL. Win or lose the entire experience is going to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

  4. James Mirtle says:

    Maybe I’m cynical having grown up watching Vancouver, but isn’t this just in keeping with the franchise’s history? Seems fitting that their best regular season ever ends with its biggest disappointment.

    (But Boston’s a much better team than anyone in the Western Conference gave them credit for.)

    • Dean says:

      Not me. I said to my friends after Boston beat Vancouver in the regular season that they were probably the only team I thought could beat the Canucks in a 7 game series.

    • snafu says:

      Admittedly, I only watched two games with the Bruins, vs the Wings on Feb 11 and 13. They didn’t look like a team that belonged on the same ice with the Wings. 6-1 and 4-2. Thomas was in net, if I recall. There was never any doubt of the outcome. That said, I don’t remember if injuries were an issue at that time.

      The Wings seemed much more challenged by Vancouver. I know teams match up differently against different opponents, but going by watching my team and how tough the competition was, I thought Vancouver would be the far better team.

  5. Bo says:

    Canucks are not a more skilled team, both teams have skill, Bruins also play with grit that is the difference. Bruins have skill and play physical while Canucks are more one dimensional. I don’t have a dog in this fight but I am pulling for the Bruins mainly because I just like the way they play, they just don’t quit and how can you not love Tim Thomas? Great player and such a great attitude.

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